Dhaka parties to fight government separately

June 6th, 2008 - 3:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, June 6 (IANS) A united front against Bangladesh’s present caretaker government is not in the offing. Political parties, many of their leaders in jail, have decided to fight it separately. The Awami League, the country’s oldest party, again rejected Thursday the call for unity from its main rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

The last and only time such a front was formed was in 1990 against military ruler Gen. H.M. Ershad, who was forced to quit.

The Awami League blames the BNP for the political tug-of-war that led to the cancellation of general elections and imposition of national emergency in January last year.

The caretaker government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed, supposed to hold elections within 90 days, has remained in office ever since. It has promised elections only in December.

Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina and BNP chief Khaleda Zia, both former prime ministers, are in jail. They deny the graft charges levelled by the government’s anti-corruption agencies.

They allege that the caretaker government is keeping them in prison and trying to get them convicted so that they can be debarred from contesting elections.

However, their detention and curbs on political activities have not prevented their parties from preparing for elections.

The threat of street protests has provoked the government to arrest over 12,000 political workers across the country.

Besides rivalry with the BNP, the Awami League’s main objection is to any alliance with the Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamist party. The Awami League calls itself secular and the JeI fundamentalist.

BNP secretary general Khandaker Delawar Hossain said Thursday: “A united movement is now the only way to overcome the existing crisis.”

Responding to Awami League’s rejection of the unity call, Hossain said: “For Allah’s sake and for people’s interest, please say ‘yes’ to unity.”

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